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Photograph of David Driskell seated at his easel with a paint brush in hand in his studio surrounded by paintings.

A Tribute to David C. Driskell

John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art

The fourth annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art honors the legacy of David C. Driskell (1931–2020), one of the world’s leading authorities on African American art, who passed away at age 88 from complications of COVID-19 on April 1. Held in partnership with the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the tribute will honor his contribution as a distinguished university professor emeritus of art, and as an artist, art historian, collector, curator, and philanthropist.

Held in conjunction with the exhibitions Trees by David C. Driskell and David C. Driskell Papers (September 8–November 20, 2020) at the Driskell Center.

Made possible by a grant from the Alice L. Walton Foundation.

Join Us for an Interactive Tribute | September 12–17, 2020


Photograph by Carol Harrison

Online Event
Live Artist Conversation
September 17, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Join us online for introductory remarks from Kaywin Feldman and Lonnie G. Bunch III; a live conversation with artists Lyle Ashton Harris, Curlee Raven Holton, Keith Morrison, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Jefferson Pinder, Frank Stewart, and Carrie Mae Weems, moderated by Sarah Workneh; and Q&A joined by scholars Valerie Cassel Oliver, Julie L. McGee, and Alvia J. Wardlaw, who prerecorded symposium tributes.

Available for live viewing on Facebook and YouTube. Closed captions will be available on all platforms.


Online Event

Virtual Writing Salon

September 12, 13, 14, 16, 17

Color and Verse: Poetry Inspired by the Work of David C. Driskell

Immerse yourself in the work of acclaimed artist and scholar David C. Driskell in this special Writing Salon. Participants will explore two of Driskell's vibrant prints and share their impressions through the medium of poetry.

Read poems reflecting on Driskell’s work that were created by participants.

Watch Performance Premiere

by Jefferson Pinder


Now Showing!

Jefferson Pinder will premiere a new performance that speaks to his interest in bodies in motion in this time of social distancing and protest. In Prowl, black and brown drivers slowly circle through a historically white Chicago neighborhood in which many police officers live, the choreography of their vehicles documented by people on foot. The work hopes to spark conversation about propriety of space and to embody ideas of surveillance.

Reflect on New Insights on Dr. Driskell’s Legacy

Dr. Driskell dedicated much of his career to the works of others. The virtual symposium will feature prerecorded material that engages the audience to consider the aspects of Dr. Driskell’s career that have not been generally discussed or published.

“A Tribute to David C. Driskell” Presenters

On September 17 at 6:00 p.m., the Gallery will host a live webinar with introductory remarks by National Gallery of Art Director Kaywin Feldman and Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; a moderated artist panel; and Q&A joined by scholars Valerie Cassel Oliver, Julie L. McGee, and Alvia J. Wardlaw, who prerecorded symposium tributes.


Lonnie G. Bunch III
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and National Gallery of Art Trustee

Photograph by Michael Barnes, Smithsonian Institution


Valerie Cassel Oliver
Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and David C. Driskell Prize recipient (2011)

Courtesy the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Photograph by Travis Fullerton


Lyle Ashton Harris
Artist; professor of art and art education, New York University, and David C. Driskell Prize recipient (2014)

Photograph by John Edmonds


Curlee Raven Holton
Artist, art historian, master printmaker, David M. and Linda Roth Professor of Art Emeritus, and director (2012–present), David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park

Photograph by Jase Clark

Julie McGee - Museums

Julie L. McGee
Associate professor of Africana studies and art history, and director, Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center at the University of Delaware; author of David C. Driskell: Artist and Scholar; and curator of David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History (High Museum of Art, February 6–May 9, 2021; Portland Museum of Art, June 19–September 12, 2021; and The Phillips Collection, October 16, 2021–January 9, 2022)

Photograph by Kathy F. Atkinson | University of Delaware


Keith Morrison
Artist, art educator, curator, art critic, administrator, and former dean and professor emeritus of painting, Tyler School of Art & Architecture, Temple University

Photograph by Sam Fritch

Photograph by Benjamin Lozovsky

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
Artist; professor emerita, department of art practice, University of California, Berkeley

Photograph courtesy of the artist


Jefferson Pinder
Artist; professor of sculpture and director of academic affairs for diversity, equity, and inclusion, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and Fellowship Recipient in Art from the David C. Driskell Center (2002–2003)

Photograph by Luis Acosta Tejada


Frank Stewart
Artist and senior staff photographer, Jazz at Lincoln Center


Alvia J. Wardlaw
Professor of art history, department of visual and performing arts, and curator and director of the University Museum, Texas Southern University

Photograph by Earlie Hudnall, Jr.


Carrie Mae Weems
Artist, and University Artist in Residence, Syracuse University

Photograph by Rolex Audoin Desforges


Sarah Workneh
Co-director, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

Photograph by Elle Pe?rez

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Top Image Credit: Frank Stewart, Portrait of David C. Driskell in his studio, Falmouth, Maine, 2018. ? Frank Stewart

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